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Dashiell Hammett: The Complete Novels Hardcover – Aug 30 1999
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From Library Journal
It was a big year for Hammett. He was the subject of a TV film as well as an American Masters TV biography. Knopf, his original publisher, gathered 20 early stories, and the Library of America added his complete novels to its prestigious ranks. Long overdue recognition. (Classic Returns, LJ 8/99)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Steven Marcus, a distinguished literary critic and cultural historian, is George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.
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Top Customer Reviews
His last novel "The Thin Man" is his weakest work. Again, the dialogue is crisp, and the descriptions of characters fantastic. The only problem is that the plot makes no sense and seems to ramble on forever with very little to tie anything together. The final ending doesn't resolve a lot of the open plot issues, and the book is a failure for this reason.
I recently saw the film made out of the book with William Powell. The screenwriters were left with the horrible task of making the plot make sense and resolve it cleaning. They chopped the book to pieces, but they had no choice. If the film did show all the plot points in the book, the film would have been a massive failure.
Why did Hammett cease to write? I think one of the causes is his last novel "The Thin Man". It seems that because of his serious drinking problem, he couldn't develop plots that made sense anymore. If you think about it, Nick and Nora (in the book and film) are both alcholics (they go way beyond social drinking).
Another reason he stopped writing was that he helped out his wife Lillian Hellman a great deal of the time with her plays. In a sense, he sacrificed his writing career to hers.
With all this in mind, I would buy the book. Except to be confused and impatient with his plot in "The Thin Man".
"Red Harvest" introduces the Continental Op, cool-as-a-cucumber private detective who arrives in Personvilles (often pronounced "Poisonville") for a client, Donald Wilson, who has been suddenly murdered. Soon the Continental Op finds himself being hired by Donald's father Elihu to clean up Personville. To do so, he'll have to fight fire with fire, and play dirty with the many dangerous crooks.
"The Dain Curse" starts off with an ordinary diamond heist where things don't seem quite right. It soon leads the Continental Op to Gabrielle Leggett, a young woman with a drug habit, an attachment to a cult, a bizarre family secret, and who is convinced in the "Dain Curse" that has supposedly slain her entire family. The Op sets out to discover the origins of the cult and cure Gabrielle of her drug use...
"The Maltese Falcon" starts with a simple case, in which a young woman asks the private investigators Sam Spade and Miles Archer to trail her sister's lover. Except not only does she not have a sister, but she's wrapped up in a bizarre hunt for the priceless, elusive Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade must unravel a tangle of lies and murder to find out who killed Miles, and what is going on with the Falcon.
"The Glass Key presents Ned Beaumont, a gambler-turned-murder-investigator who has to start investigating when a Senator's son is murdered. What he uncovers is more than murder, but deception, desperate political games, gangsters and money.Read more ›
RED HARVEST featuring the Continental Op is a real romp through a completely corrupt town which gets what's coming to it because a corrupt police official makes the middle aged fat man protagonist mad. There's an underlying theme of corruption as a true poison.
THE DAIN CURSE is again the Continental Op, and here you see glimpses of a tender side to a character who is basically completely self controlled. And in this, you see the very weak female character turn into an admirably strong woman.
THE MALTESE FALCON is of course the true classic, a study of greed and deception. Sam Spade's story of a character named Flitcraft gives the reader the author's perspective on the randomness of life.
THE GLASS KEY gives a sleazy view of politics and makes a couple of points about friendship.
THE THIN MAN appears lightweight after the first four, but a second reading reveals a portrait of a very able person who allowed passion to leave his life, and is slowly going down the drain.
Crime fans will especially love this collection, but there is a whole lot of value concerning human nature and the framework of society here.
Most recent customer reviews
Really interesting to see this writing style and most enjoyable after just having watched Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese FalconPublished 9 months ago by Dr. Gary H. Kramer
this was a gift for my son for Christmas. It was exactly what he asked for the price was good and it shipped fast.Published on Dec 27 2013 by Cindy Herrick
While I have been a keen consumer of quality crime writing since the mid '60's, I was only vaguely aware of Hammett (while being familiar with the film of the Maltese Falcon). Read morePublished on Dec 4 2013 by Kevin Pritchard
This publisher creates quality bound hardcover collections of a variety of American authors. The books are a pleasure both for their physical properties and their content. Read morePublished on Aug. 8 2013 by Stephen Fudge
Hammett was the best writer ever to take to crime fiction. All his writing is lean and elegant.
The Dain Curse (his first novel) is not very good, but the other 4 are superb. Read more
during early Depression America. Each of these five classics shed light on the human condition,corruption, nastiness,and sometimes,redemption, and are as good now as 65-plus years... Read morePublished on Dec 27 2001 by Hans Castorp
Wow. Finally the publishers are making what needs to be made more often.
Hammett reinvents the hard-boiled and hard-boiled is forever changed. Read more
This is the best of the best when it comes to Dashiell Hammett. I am a long time fan and can say that Dashiell Hammett is coming into high fashion again. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2000